Wistia Retargets Video Sharing and Measurement Technology for Small Business
I last wrote about Lexington, MA-based Wistia in September 2008, which, I’m sure you’ll remember, was approximately when the economy went all to hell. CEO Chris Savage said it was clear by October that Wistia’s original business model—licensing its Web-based video-sharing platform to large enterprises—was insufficient. So this week the startup is launching a reconfigured version of its technology. Called Zebra, the system has been overhauled to meet the needs of small- to medium-sized businesses, which are increasingly using video for marketing and training purposes.
The basics of the technology remain the same: Wistia hosts video produced by its customers on its servers, and keeps detailed records on who watches them—records that customers can then use to verify compliance (if the videos are being used for education or training) or to help identify the best leads (if the videos are part of the sales process). But Zebra can now track videos published on a company’s public-facing website, which the older Wistia system couldn’t do. And the service is now being sold on a subscription basis, with prices starting at $79 per month.
Wistia had a good first quarter, growing from 20 customers to 70, but almost all of the new customers were small businesses, says co-founder and CEO Chris Savage. “We’ve set out to really align the business and the application with those customers,” Savage says. “People said they loved the private [video] sharing and the ability to see what parts of a video people watched and what they’re interested in… but they started saying they wanted this for their public videos too.”
There’s another Boston firm, Visible Measures, that makes tools companies can use to study the behavior of Web surfers watching public videos, including which parts of a video they view more than once, and how often videos get forwarded. But Visible Measures’ services are aimed mostly at big media companies that want to track the viral spread of their videos as part of multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns. The Zebra system is designed for non-media companies whose videos likely get thousands of viewers per month rather than millions, Savage explains.
Using Zebra, companies can collect data such as the IP address of every Web visitor who views a video and how many times specific viewers come back. That information can be used to prove that a company complied with training requirements, or to fine-tune a pitch to prospective customers.
For example, one of Wistia’s customers is Kiva Systems, a maker of robotic warehouse automation systems that we’ve covered extensively. “They have video on their site that they use to help people get a taste of what their robots do,” says Savage. As prospects enter the sales process, he explains, Kiva creates a custom Wistia project for each one. The company can see which videos the prospects are focusing on and tailor its next communication accordingly. “It’s a video funnel—a whole interaction that hopefully leads to a longer relationship,” Savage says.
Wistia isn’t leaving behind its enterprise users, but “we are definitely not going after whole-enterprise solutions anymore,” says Savage. “We found that the applications in the enterprise were really at the departmental level, or started small and grew up from the department level. That was when the light bulb went off for us: this is much more like WebEx, where any sales person can buy into it, than it is like company-wide messaging.”